The Prehistory of Exhibition History

By grupa o.k. (Julian Myers and Joanna Szupinska)

Art history has long included studies of exhibitions as episodes or turning points within more expansive narratives. Such moments have opened art histories based in the studio, or among the members of a small, bohemian circle, to a larger social field that includes politics, audience, and market, before returning to the private or small-group interactions that have equally served to drive art’s internal means.

Lee Miller, Challenging Convention

By Lauren Richman

Lauren Richman reviews Hilary Roberts, ed., Lee Miller: A Woman’s War, and the exhibition Lee Miller: A Woman’s War, and Walter Moser and Klaus Albrecht Schröder, eds., Lee Miller, and the exhibition Lee Miller, aka Lee Miller—Photographs and The Indestructible Lee Miller

The Arctic Plants of New York City: An Annotated Bibliography

By James Walsh

I’ve been working since 2008 on a long, complex project centered on plants that grow in both the arctic (I always use the lowercase) and New York City, of which there are a surprising number. Along with identifying and pressing these plants, I’ve been reading eighteenth-century herbals and floras and more recent works on edible plants and botany generally, and have had a particular interest in mental travel and in writers who combine botany and literature.

Leaving Düsseldorf

By Godfre Leung

Godfre Leung reviews Sabine Breitwieser, Laura J. Hoptman, Michael Darling, and Jeffrey D. Grove, Isa Genzken: Retrospective, and the exhibition Isa Genzken: Retrospective; Kathy Halbreich, ed., Alibis: Sigmar Polke, 1963–2010, and the exhibition Alibis: Sigmar Polke, 1963–2010; and Elodie Evers, Magdalena Holzhey, and Gregor Jansen, eds., Leben mit Pop and the exhibition Leben mit Pop.

Through the Looking-Glass, Darkly

By Tina Rivers

When H. H. Arnason published the first edition of his 1968 book The History of Modern Art, it ended with a one-page entry on “Psychedelic Art.” Positioning the inchoate movement as a bridge between the modern and contemporary periods, the entry was a blueprint for a future that would never come to pass, and was expunged from all further editions, helping to relegate psychedelia to the proverbial dustbin of history.

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

By Sarah Betzer

Spurred by global economic contractions, by the attention of politicians, legislators, and pundits, and certainly also by the historical curiosity and critical orientation of its ranks, the academy at present is in the thrall of self-scrutiny. What is the past, present, and future of the research university, an invention of stunningly recent vintage and yet of remarkable structural resilience?

We Are Pop People

By Joshua Shannon

Anyone seeking a crisp argument for the importance of contemporary art history should welcome the introduction of Hal Foster’s latest book, The First Pop Age. Foster justifies his careful look back at five key Pop artists by persuasively arguing that their work reveals and investigates a new stage, ascendant in the early 1960s, in the history of capitalist culture.

This Land Is Their Land

By Suzaan Boettger

Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974, the bold title of the exhibition and catalogue organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and on view there in 2012 and later at Munich’s Haus der Kunst, evokes the grand ambitions of artists’ environmental imaginations in the early 1970s.

Lights, Camera, Action!

By Mechtild Widrich

Should we judge a book by its cover? The image on the front of the massive new publication on a taboo-breaking group of Austrian postwar artists shows a crowd of people gazing, some with obvious disapproval, into the camera. Among them we see policemen —something has happened or is about to, a crime perhaps—but we cannot see what has given rise to the incident.

Reign of Error

By Barry Schwabsky

John Roberts is one of the more original and independent thinkers among contemporary art historians, and his wide-ranging reflections often take him well outside the boundaries of the discipline. In fact, he sometimes seems at pains to obscure what might be called the art-historical use-value of his work in order to underline its broader implications; he prefers to be seen, it appears, as a sort of unlicensed philosopher.

Agnes Martin, Under New Auspices

By Karen L. Schiff

Finally—a book of criticism about Agnes Martin. No other book of writing about this singular, revered artist has been in print for many years. And though Martin (1912–2004) has been an esteemed presence in the art world since at least the early 1960s, there exists no monograph, no biography, no previous collection of criticism.

New Realisms in the 1960s

By Jaimey Hamilton

The term nouveau réalisme, or new realism, has long been tied to the specific claims made by the critic Pierre Restany about the Paris-based art group he promoted. Restany convinced Arman, Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, Daniel Spoerri, Martial Raysse, Jacques de la Villeglé, Raymond Hains, and François Dufrêne to sign on initially, and then added César, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Gérard Deschamps, Mimmo Rotella, and Christo.

City of Angles

By Jennifer Doyle

Los Angeles mythology is hard to cut through: The city has no center, no sense of history, it has no depth. It is the city that plays itself and the city that forgets itself.